The atomic bomb and meltdowns like Fukushima have made nuclear power synonymous with global disaster. But what if we've got nuclear power wrong?The atomic bomb and meltdowns like Fukushima have made nuclear power synonymous with global disaster. But what if we've got nuclear power wrong?The atomic bomb and meltdowns like Fukushima have made nuclear power synonymous with global disaster. But what if we've got nuclear power wrong?
- Self - Environmental Activistas Self - Environmental Activist
- (archive footage)
- (as Robert Kennedy Jr.)
- Self - Senator, Oklahomaas Self - Senator, Oklahoma
- (archive footage)
Robert Stone proclaims: "The film is anchored around the personal narratives of a growing number of leading former anti-nuclear activists and pioneering scientists." The film's website also asserts that nuclear power is "now passionately embraced by many of those who once led the charge against it."
Our research found that there is no evidence that any member of the "cast" of Pandora's Promise ever led the anti-nuclear movement.
The film's participants advocate for the deployment of the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) as the best pathway to addressing climate change, a canceled breeder reactor design whose so-called "Generation IV" iteration, re-considered by the George W. Bush administration, does not exist anywhere in the world.
If Stone had interviewed those with the authority and credentials in the areas he covers — even without featuring them in his film — and then still come to the conclusions he has today reached, his credibility might be intact. But Stone apparently chose not to talk to those with genuine research credentials and depth of knowledge on the issue and whose evidence would have contradicted his film's protagonists. Therefore, we must reluctantly conclude that Stone's agenda was to produce a propaganda piece.
This conclusion is further compounded by Stone's self-confessed "aha moment" when he was "granted entry into a room in France (the size of a basketball court) where all the waste from powering 80% of the country for 30 years is stored."
But this room, located at the La Hague reprocessing facility, contains in vitrified form only 4% of the country's high-level waste, and none of the intermediate- and low-level waste, none of the plutonium or contaminated uranium, nor of course the waste still at, and being generated by, France's operating reactors. (The French nuclear industry exempts irradiated and reprocessed reactor fuel from being classified as "waste" it it "could be potentially reused at an undefined time in the future" allowing for the misrepresentation made to Stone at La Hague). The premise for making the film was therefore based on, at best, a mistaken impression.
The film's publicity follows earlier propaganda put out by the nuclear industry itself which alleged that a growing number of environmentalists had "changed their minds" and now support nuclear power. However, those so-called "turncoats" featured paid nuclear industry promoters like Christie Todd Whitman and the now retired Patrick Moore who are notably absent from Pandora's Promise.
The film's claims appear designed to feed a media campaign with a catchy theme — "environmentalists for nuclear energy" — made easier by a tendency in the media to lap up rhetoric without checking facts. One example: "Stone interviews a major swath of environmentalists, scientists, and energy planners, all of whom spent years being anti-nuclear power."
The theme likely emanates from the filmmakers' partnership with The Breakthrough Institute — whose personnel feature prominently in the film — which will "initiate a broad based outreach campaign" and involve "a comprehensive website and social media presence." This campaign has already begun.
Joe Romm, a Senior Fellow at American Progress who holds a Ph.D in physics from MIT, has warned of The Breakthrough Institute's "anti-climate-action, anti-environmental agenda" for years. In May 2009 he wrote:
"I can't imagine why any serious journalist would cite the work of The Breakthrough Institute (TBI) — except to debunk it. As we'll see once again, they constantly misstate and misrepresent what others say, and generally put out very bad analysis designed to push their anti-climate- action, anti-environmental agenda."
Breakthrough's founder and president, Michael Shellenberger, its favorite journalist, Mark Lynas (although the url still exists, his bio appears to have been pulled from the Institute's Web site), and its Senior Fellow, author Gwyneth Cravens, all feature prominently in the film. On February 1, 2013,The Breakthrough Institute lavished further praise on Lynas with its 2012 Paradigm Award. We include Romm's investigative work on The Breakthrough Institute at the end of this document.
The film's technological poster child is the sodium-cooled Integral Fast Reactor (IFR), a breeder reactor that both uses and produces plutonium but would be used to "burn" irradiated reactor waste. In a separate Beyond Nuclear Fact Sheet at the URL listed earlier, we show that the film's claims for the IFR are also rife with critical omissions and fail to present the complete picture about the risks, costs and impracticalities.
- Feb 13, 2013